Weather affects health. Flu is more common the winter, food poisoning is higher in summer. Understanding how weather affects health is important to identify the causes of human illness and prevent ill health. It is also critical in understanding the health impacts of climate change. To examine how weather affect human health science requires health data (e.g. numbers of cases of illness) and corresponding weather data. The aim of this PhD is to explore novel sources of health data by exploring the power of the web. Put simply with someone becomes ill often one of the first things they do is to enter their symptoms onto google. These data can be interrogated to obtain estimates of certain health outcomes. Such techniques have had notable successes and have been used to monitor dengue and flu epidemics (Chan et al. 2011 & Ginsberg et al., 2009). However, there is increasing recognition of the need to improve the analysis of web search data (Lazer et al., 2014).
This PhD will explore and develop new methods and techniques to enhance the usability of web search data as measures of health outcomes. These will be used as input to environment and health studies to explore the impact of weather and climate upon infectious diseases. The PhD will initially focus upon infectious diseases in Europe before moving onto neglected tropical diseases such as Cholera in Africa.
This project will provide you with expertise in the analysis and extraction of information from big datasets. You will also become skilled in the statistical analysis of large datasets. Finally this project is in collaboration with Public Health England providing you with access to infectious disease experts and public health practitioners skilled in the analysis of health surveillance data. The student will also be affiliated to the NIHR HPRU on emergency preparedness and response held jointly at UEA.